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Chance call delivers Bateman to Wynnum

Luke Bateman has been around for long enough to know that things can happen pretty quickly in rugby league.

But even after 10 years in the NRL system, Bateman admits he is stunned by the rapid nature of events that paved the way for an unexpected comeback in Rugby League Brisbane’s In Safe Hands Cup.

Having played 71 games for the Canberra Raiders in the NRL, Bateman moved back to Queensland earlier this year to take a break from the game.

He instantly landed on his feet, securing a job as an accounts manager, all while giving his body a well-earned break from the rigours of professional footy.

But everything changed on Wednesday when Wynnum Manly stalwart Ian Turner invited the former Queensland Under 20 forward to strap the boots on for the Seagulls.

That positive chat was followed up by a phone call from Wynnum coach Darren Ferricks, and within a whirlwind 24 hour period, Bateman’s registration had been approved.

Instead of putting the feet up for a quiet weekend, Bateman is now preparing to play for the Seagulls in their Round 3 clash against the Carina Tigers at Kitchener Park tomorrow.

“It all happened very quickly,” said Bateman, who will train with the Seagulls for the first time tonight.

“After I spoke with Ian, the coach rang me, and he was pumped. They’ve had a few injuries and are down on troops a bit, so he said it would be good to get someone like me with a bit of experience to help the young blokes out and give them a bit of confidence.”

After a knee injury cut short his 2019 season with the Raiders, Bateman admits he is not in peak condition. However, he is backing his footy instincts to carry him a long way when he takes the field for the Seagulls.

“I’m not going there to just have a laugh,” Bateman said.

“I’ll definitely be trying to win and win a premiership.”

If anything, he feels the short break has worked wonders. 

“I did my knee at the start of last year and it was meant to only be a four week recovery but it turned into 12 months,” Bateman said.

“But the body is feeling good now. Having the past couple of months off has probably been the best thing ever. I feel unreal, the knee feels good.”

Bateman playing for Raiders in 2018. Photo: NRL Images
Bateman playing for Raiders in 2018. Photo: NRL Images

A Miles Devils junior, Bateman cut his teeth with the Souths Logan Magpies in the Intrust Super Cup, before signing with the Green Machine.

He played consecutive years with the Raiders NYC team before making his NRL debut for the club in 2015.

At 25, Bateman feels he has plenty of good footy left in him, and hopes to sign with an Intrust Super Cup club for the 2021 season.

“I’ve already talked to a few clubs and obviously my junior club is Souths Logan, so I’ve been talking to (CEO) Jimmy Jim McClelland,” he said.

“No decision has been made in that area yet. Every club is in the same position, they don’t really know their funding and what next year is looking like at the moment.”

The team which lands his prized signature will inherit a “true clubman”, according to Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.

“Luke has been a tremendous servant for the club and always gave his best when he was selected to play for the Raiders,” Stuart told the Raiders in May.

“To play 70 first grade games is a wonderful achievement and Luke will always be a Raider and respected for his achievements.”